MBA Admissions Wire by "Tad Holbie"

"Tad Holbie's" weblog of his 2002-03 business school application experience.
Home | Tad's Applications | Archives | Site Info | Disclaimers | Epilogue
Useful Links
Applicant Weblogs
* League of MBA Bloggers - best resource for listing all MBA blogs.
* Modz (Anderson-bound)
* Thibault (Kellogg-bound)
* Michael (Wharton-bound)
Currently Reading:
Liar's Poker
Liar's Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street

Bond Market
How the Bond Market Works

MBA Prep Books I Used:
How To Get Into the Top MBA Programs

Kaplan GMAT 2003

Kaplan 800
Kaplan GMAT 800
Message Boards & Chat Rooms
* Business Week Forum
* Wharton S2S Message Board
* Wharton S2S Chat Room
* scheduled chats
* Business Week 2003 Rankings (free registration required)
* Financial Times 2003 Rankings (PDF)
* US News & World Report 2003 Rankings
* Wall Street Journal 2003 Rankings
* Forbes Magazine 2001 Rankings
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* Blogger - Publishing tools
* Hotmail - E-mail
* MSN - Groups
* SiteMeter - Traffic monitoring
* SurveyMonkey - Web surveys
* HaloScan - Commenting system
* Tag-Board - Message board
* ZonkBoard - Message board (old)
* BlogHop - Weblog rating system
* FreeFind - Free website search engine
* WhoIS - IP/Domain Lookup
My Applications
Status: Admitted in R2!
* Homepage
* Ambasador Program
* M-Track Message Board
* Monroe Street Journal newspaper
* University of Michigan Merchandise
* UMBSA FAQ about life in Ann Arbor
* Ann Arbor Weather
My posts:
* List of essay topics
* Outlining the essays
* My alumni interview
* UMBS/Ann Arbor photos:
Image not available
(Click to enter my UMBS photo album)
Chicago GSB
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied Admissions after interview
* Homepage
* ChiBus newspaper
My posts:
* My alumni interview
* Approach/status of essays: 1, 2, 3, 4
* Posts on essay B: 1, 2
* Dinged!
* Chicago photos:
(Click to enter my Chicago photo album)
Status: Denied Admissions after Interview
* Homepage
* Online Status Check
* Finance Dept. homepage
* The Bottom Line Newspaper
* Columbia Merchandise
* Adrian Hind, student weblog
* New York weather
My posts:
* Info session summary
* My second campus visit
* List of essay topics
* Outlining the essays
* Posts on essay #1: 1
* Posts on essay #2: 1, 2
* Posts on essay #3: 1
* My alumni interview
* Columbia photos:
(Click to enter my Columbia photo album)
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied Admissions
* Homepage
* HarBus newspaper
* Adam Medros, student weblog
My posts:
* Info session summary
* Recommendation e-mail
* Approach/status of essays: 1, 2, 3, 4
* Essay word counts
* Posts on essay #3 and #4: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
* Posts on essay #6: 1, 2, 3
* Photos from campus
* Class visit experience
* Dinged!
* HBS photos:
(Click to enter my HBS photo album)
Status: Denied admissions after waitlist
* Homepage
* Online Status Check
* 2002-03 Calendar
* Kellogg Merger newspaper
* Professor McGee's Musings
* Northwestern University Merchandise
* Evanston weather
My posts:
* 2002 Waitlist Wrapup
* List of essay topics
* Starting the Kellogg app
* Outlining the essays
* Posts on essay #1: 1, 2
* Posts on essay #2: 1
* Posts on essay #3: 1, 2
* Posts on essay #4: 1
* Reviewing my essays
* My alumni interview
* Notes on my second campus visit
* Northwestern/Kellogg photos:
(Click to enter my August Kellogg photo album)
(Click to enter my April Kellogg photo album)
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied admissions after interview.
* Homepage
* Sloan Management Review
* 2002 Employment Report (PDF)
My posts:
* Info session summary
* Links to Sloan's tracks
* Note the mail-in items
* Approach/status of essays: 1, 2
* Cover letter: 1, 2
* Post on essay #1
* Post on essay #3
* My interview experience
* MIT/Sloan photos:
(Click to enter my Sloan photo album)
Stanford GSB
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied Admissions
* Homepage
* Stanford Reporter newspaper
My posts:
* Online recommender setup
* Posts on essay A: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
* Posts on essay B: 1
* Dinged!
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied Admissions after interview
* Homepage
* Student2Student message board
* Wharton Journal newspaper
* Laura Bennett, student diary
* Student Diaries
My posts:
* Info session summary
* Approach/status of essays: 1, 2, 3, 4
* Posts on essay #1: 1, 2
* Posts on essay #4: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
* Photos from campus
* The interview experience
* Dinged!
* Wharton photos:
(Click to enter my Wharton photo album)
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05/18/2002 - 05/24/2003
05/25/2002 - 05/31/2003
06/01/2002 - 06/07/2003
06/08/2002 - 06/14/2003
06/15/2002 - 06/21/2003
06/22/2002 - 06/28/2003
06/29/2002 - 07/05/2003
Taken: Once, in 2002
Score: 760+
Advice: Get it over with quickly, aim for 670+
* Thoughts on the GMAT: 1, 2, 3
Advice: Ask them at least 2 months in advance
* Initial thoughts
* On delays: 1, 2
Advice: Develop an overall message. Write outlines. Revise many times. Have a friend proofread. Be honest. Answer what is asked.
* My initial thoughts
* Don't write what you think they want to hear
* My process
Advice: Know yourself. Review your application, answers to common questions.
* AdComm or Alum?
* My list of prep questions
Application Process
Advice: Start early. Give yourself at least two months to finish your first application.
* The "bible" of MBA application's, Montauk's How to Get Into the Top MBA Programs
* Tips on where to start
* Living the double life
* Dealing with disappointment
Financial Aid
Advice: Start early, even before getting accepted anywhere. Americans should fill-out and submit their FAFSA forms as soon as they have 2002 financial/tax info.
* Department of Education FAFSA Website
* Request a PIN for the FAFSA
* List of documents needed to complete the FAFSA form
* FAFSA School Code Lookup
* Legal Disclaimer
Site Info
Started: August 28, 2002
Creator: "Tad Holbie"
Daily Traffic:

Emails Received: 909 (as of 6/26/03)
Rate this site:
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Who is "Tad Holbie"?
Tad Holbie is a pseudonym I created to protect my privacy and identity as I apply to business school (don't believe me? Google it for yourself). I am a young, American, first-time applicant to some of the elite business schools in the fall of 2002. My e-mail is
If I am accepted to one of the business schools I've applied to, I will be more revealing about my identity and personal details.
When did I start all this?
I started this Weblog a couple months after I got serious about applying to business school. The first post was on August 28th, 2002. When do I have time to write this site? In between my full-time job and writing essays, time is limited. But I am a fast typist and am quick to jot down my thoughts during spare moments.
Why MBA Admissions Wire?
I started this website to record and share my experiences applying to business school (a long and stressful process). As time has gone by and greater numbers of readers e-mailed me to ask for advice, encourage me, and share their experiences, I have turned this site into a resource for all MBA applicants, in effect creating an online community.
How do I do MBA Admissions Wire?
It's very easy, and (best of all) free. Just go to and after a free registration you can have your own Weblog too! Even better, they offer free hosting on their server!
Disclaimer:I am not an admissions officer, nor am I affiliated with any of the schools, organizations, or sites listed on this page (i.e. I haven't even been accepted to any B-School--this is my first time applying!). The events described on this web page are real events, though certain names, genders, locations, and dates (i.e. interview dates, submission dates, etc.) may be changed to protect my identity. If you are applying to any of the schools listed on this page, please refer to their official web sites for the definitive deadline dates, application procedures, etc. (i.e. It's not a smart move to rely on this page while applying). The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author.
I am also neither a lawyer nor an accountant. All information and events describing or related to financial aid, tuition, scholarships, loans, and other monetary matters is strictly meant to only describe "Tad Holbie's" situation, and should not be considered instructions, financial advice, or in any way pertaining to the [reader's] financial situation. Consult your own accountant/lawyer when making important financial decisions.
Any questions, e-mail him at (and no, that isn't my real name).
About Interviews: I may or may not disclose if/when/with whom I have been invited to interviews. At present, I'm leaning towards discussing my interview experiences a few days/weeks after they happen. Mark me "undecided".
Privacy Policy: If you choose to e-mail me, I promise not to publish your name, e-mail address, or contact information on my website without first getting your permission. I may excerpt part or all of your e-mail on my site, but will take care to edit out any information that might identify the source. If you don't want any or your e-mail posted on my site, just put "Please keep private" at the bottom of your e-mail. Any questions, e-mail me at
Posting Policy: Basically, anything you post can be reviewed by me. If I find a post to the message board or comment system that is sufficiently rude, offensive, moronic, I'll feel free to a) delete it, and/or b) ban you from posting ever again. In conclusion: You don't have free speech on my site, so don't be a jerk.

Welcome! First time visitors are encouraged to start here.

Saturday, September 14, 2002

Posted 11:54 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81617852:

I've also found this site,, which seems to be an attempt to serve much the same purpose as the MBA Admissions Wire. I can't tell if it is updated very frequently, though...

Posted 11:49 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81617691:

One piece of advice, for those of you applying to B-School: Keep a detailed calendar of everything you work on each day. I created my calendar, using Vision, in June. It shows every single day until next February, when the final R1 results are released. I updated it daily with what I've worked on, and it serves several purposes:
1) Helping me keep track of whether or not I've done something, and when (i.e. how long have my recommenders been procrasitinating?)
2) It keeps me focused on my timetable and upcoming deadlines and events (i.e. in which week do I have three apps due?)
3) It makes time go by a little quicker.

Posted 11:39 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81617361:

Yeah, baby! There's plenty of room, everybody jump onto the MBA Admissions Wire bandwagon! In the past couple days, I've noticed three more external links to this site:
Laura, the second year Wharton student whose diary I link to.
Adrian, aka "JavaBoy", the student at Columbia Business School.
And the mysterious Daivd Ragones, whose site now links to mine.

Every once in a while, when I need an ego hit, I check out the stats on Adam's site. He's the first MBA blogger I found and linked to. A quick look at September's stats shows that was the origin for 224 of their 590 visitors (as of this moment--now)--scroll down to the "Connect to site from" section to see what I'm talking about.

So all you MBA bloggers out there, want some traffic? E-mail me.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming...

Posted 11:27 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81617008:

One thing I like about Stanford's online application: It has very detailed status updates for the online recommendations. With some of the other sites, once you send it off the status doesn't change until they've submitted the completed app. With Stanford, I can see that one of my recommenders has started working, but the other two haven't even confirmed the e-mail yet...

Posted 11:11 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81616537:

I've put the school newspaper links up in the links section of this page, to the left. I included Columbia's Bottom Line newspaper as well. If anyone knows Kellogg's newspaper, e-mail me.

Posted 11:02 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81616243:

Why hadn't I found this earlier? The HBS newspaper - A quick search also revealed the Wharton Journal (with a frontpage article about summer internships at I-Banks, all you future finance majors), ChiBus, the Stanford Reporter, and the MIT Sloan Management Review. Some/most of these require free registration. I think these would be a great source of school color to mention in the essays, so I have no excuse for not looking for them earlier.

Posted 10:42 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81615597:

Just completed my fifth drafts of the HBS essays, and the word counts are looking much better, with only #5 being significantly over the limit:
Essay 1 - 405 words
Essay 2 - 583 words
Essay 3 - 384 words
Essay 4 - 392 words
Essay 5 - 449 words
Essay 6 - 401 words

Posted 6:37 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81608829:

Well, it took about three hours to read through all 6 HBS essays and do a good editing job on them. I focused more on correcting grammar and style, not so much on trimming for word count. Later I'll make the changes to my electronic copies (I believe editing is best done on paper) and then see how the word counts come out. HBS #1 was the most heavily edited; #5, the least.

Posted 10:34 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81594736:

The plan: Sit by the water's edge, take in the sights, let the sun beat down on me, and read through my 10 HBS & Wharton essays...

Posted 8:25 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81592342:

I'm going to rest most of today, before entering the final push on HBS and Wharton tonight. Posting will be light and frothy.

Posted 8:21 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81592274:

The Kellogg online app still isn't up...

Friday, September 13, 2002
Posted 8:05 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81575300:

I see that I'm sometimes getting readers from and domains, and I wanted to take a moment to thank the men and women serving in our armed forces. They are the reason that you can sit in an air conditioned room browsing through my meanderings, and the reason that my greatest worry is whether or not I can finish enough grad school applications in time.

We owe you a lot. Thank you.

Posted 5:10 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81569529:

The Kellogg 2003 online app still doesn't seem to be up...

Posted 3:59 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81566917:

I got another one!
Here's the blog of a Melbourne MBA student spending a semester at Columbia. I glanced over the site, and he seems to be concentrating on finance...

Posted 3:53 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81566680:

Looking ahead...
Week of 9/16/02: Finishing touches on HBS essays, reviewed by friends; Final editing of Wharton essays; Submit Kellogg part I (if they ever get the online app up)
Week of 9/23/02: Finish up HBS app, submit by end of week; Complete Wharton app; Work Stanford essays over some
Weeks of 9/30/02, 10/07/02: ~~~Dead weeks; Cannot work on apps here~~~
Week of 10/14/02: HBS due 10/17 (already submitted); Submit Wharton app; Final editing of Stanford essays; Work on Chicago, MIT essays
Week of 10/21/02: Wharton due 10/24 (already submitted); Complete, submit Stanford app; Finish Chicago essays; Work on MIT, Kellogg essays
Week of 10/28/02: Stanford due 10/30 (already submitted); Finish MIT, Kellogg essays; Final editing Chicago essays; Submit Chicago app
Week of 11/4/02 (Hell Week): MIT due 11/6, Chicago, Kellogg due 11/8; Submit MIT app, Kellogg app

The more I can get done on Chicago, Kellogg, and MIT, the less of a train wreck that first week of November is going to be...


Posted 3:36 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81566078:

A few comments about the online applications:
1) I don't like applications which require you to type/paste your essays into text boxes. That just seems inherently more unreliable than uploading finished documents.
2) If you have an online application site, you've got to allow online recommendations (MIT, Chicago, Kellogg--I'm talking to you!)
3) There should be a button to politely remind [online] recommenders of upcoming deadlines. Better yet, it should be automatic--i.e. an e-mail will be sent to my recommender if they have not started the recommendation 1 week before the deadline ("Dear sir, This is an automated reminder from ____ school. The deadline for your recommendation for Tad Holbie is in one week. Get off your ass!!!")

- Tad

Posted 3:34 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81566004:

Today is going pretty damn slow, so I'll just go through some of my thoughts about the school's websites. These are my first, unorganized impressions:

The HBS site looks pretty, but is poorly organized and a bit weak. There is no message board, the FAQ is really short, and the information just feels rushed. The menus are confusing and not so helpful.

The King Kong of B-School sites, with its own message board, tons of course information, and student diaries. This is the one site where I know I can get any question answered.

Very similar to HBS: Pretty. It, too, is organized around themes ("Learning|Living|Leading..."), which I just don't think fits the web world (an nice menu running down the left side of the page would be just as good). No message board, no FAQ.

This site feels a bit disorganized. At first glance, for example, I can't tell where to find the curriculum discussed. On the plus side, they do have an "ask the student" feature.

This is a more traditionally organized web page, but it just seems a bit stale (probably having "©2001 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University" at the bottom of the page doesn't help). The best feature? The section on which majors/concentrations are best for which careers. I wish all schools had this.

Very shallow is the first description that comes to mind. The FAQ is weak.

Wharton has, by far, the "stickiest" website. I go to S2S almost every day to see what's up, what people are talking about. And having Alex Brown posting frequently there gives applicants a "personal touch" that helps endear them to the school.


Posted 3:00 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81564609:

It's a slow day at work, so I went through some of Adam (the first year HBS student's) archives. Here are three of note:
1) He talks about being admitted to MIT and some of their post-admission events.
2) He answers a question about how he coped with a low GMAT quant score.
3) He talks about his decision to go to HBS over Sloan.

Posted 2:02 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81562366:

I touched up HBS #6 a bit, making it a bit clearer and beefing up the "why HBS" part a bit more.

Posted 12:54 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81559694:

Friday Deadline Countdown
>> 34 days left until the HBS Round I deadline
>> 41 days left until the Wharton Round I deadline
>> 47 days left until the Stanford GSB Round I deadline
>> 54 days left until the MIT Sloan Round I deadline
>> 56 days left until the Kellogg and Chicago Round I deadlines

My status:
GMAT - Done
Transcripts - All collected
Recommendations - 1 HBS done; 1 Wharton done; Rest in progress
Essays - All HBS fourth drafts done; All Wharton third drafts done; All Kellogg first drafts done; All Stanford first drafts done; Chicago, MIT first drafts in progress
Data Forms - All on-line forms are 90% complete (still awaiting Kellogg...Hello?)

Goals for the weekend:
>> Grammar, spelling, style reviews of HBS and Wharton essays
>> Begin final preparations for HBS and Wharton applications
>> If there's time, second draft of Stanford essay A



Posted 7:54 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81549355:

Wharton #4 is done. 552 words. Fluid. Interesting. Appropriate. Related. Meaninful.

The format basically goes as follows:
1) Introduce new quality that gives a better picture of me
2) Introduce extracurricular activity that demonstrates quality
3) Relate that to success at work, which used same quality
4) Beautiful icing on the cake which reinforces the quality, plus work ethic, drive, and creativity

Whew. Plus, as an added bonus, I thought of something else that I can mention about Wharton that has me interested in applying there. Bonus!

Posted 7:29 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81548852:

Thank you for your support! Here's the traffic numbers that this site has seen:
                    -- Site Summary ---                     

Total ........................ 2,695
Average per Day ................ 159
This Week .................... 1,070
Page Views
Total ........................ 4,181
Average per Day ................ 246
Average per Visit .............. 1.6
This Week .................... 1,468

Tips for how to make MBA Admission Wire more intresting are always welcome!

Posted 5:04 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81546165:

I'll be keeping track of whether the Kellogg online application comes up today. Point your eyes to the left and you will see my Kellogg Online App Status-O-Meter.

It's not up yet (2:00 am PST)...

Posted 5:01 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81546107:

Wharton #4 will be done this morning. It will roughly take the form:
I. Another strength of mine is Y, as demonstrated in activity Z
II. Details of participation in Z
III. How quality Y then helped me at work
IV. Conclusion

This ties the interesting extracurricular, Z, to both a quality Y and some results at work. It will show Y more than have me talk about Y.

I think the previous version would have caused readers to say, "Yes, that's nice, but so?"

Thursday, September 12, 2002
Posted 9:21 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81532210:

What I'm thinking is: Does #4 say something about me by saying it, or by showing it? In other words, I talk a lot about myself in the essay, but I am not actually demonstrating that I have those qualities. Maybe if I flex it a bit towards my actual thought process and motivation in doing the activity, rather than the "what the activity says about me" angle, it would be better.

As you can see, I'm a firm believer that essays should show your qualities (through examples, experiences, etc.) rather than state your qualities ("I am a hard worker who has intelligence and kan't spell very well...").

A snip and a tuck and I'll be through!

Posted 9:15 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81531997:

Ooh, starting to get cold feet on #4 already. It must be a world record...

Posted 8:49 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81530989:

I realize that this Blog might be tough to read sometimes, since I am intentionally vague about my essay topics. Obviously, I am doing this to be extra careful so that, on the chance any AdComm members are reading this, they won't be able to recognize my application.

On one hand, I think that AdCommer's would be impressed that I have shown the initiative to write the MBA Admissions Wire. But being practical, they can see what schools I am applying to, which might cause them to reconsider whether or not to admit me. Speaking frankly, Columbia (to pick an example) is not as big a name school as HBS, so a Columbia admissions officer might look twice at my application and judge it more harshly in the off chance that I wouldn't attend there.

Since I haven't made up my mind on where I'd like to attend most (which would be really jumping the gun, since I haven't even submitted an application for any of the schools!), this shouldn't be the case, but hey, better safe than sorry.

AdComm members--if you have some thoughts on this matter, drop me a line.

Posted 8:37 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81530518:

Well, there you have it: Essay #4, 582 words, done. It is...gutsy. Quite frankly, I lay it on the line with this one: If I have succeeded, the reader will slap the essay down and say, "This guy we have to talk to!" If I haven't succeeded, they will say, "What a childish bunch of crap!"

My subject is a hobby/extracurricular activity that I did in college that is a really good reflection of my personality, qualities, etc. I describe that activity at the beginning and end of my college days, using the differences to illustrate how I had grown. I then describe how I would approach that activity now, further extending showing how I have changed.

I think it's good, daring, interesting, and worth keeping in. I think the applicants who get accepted are those that don't play it safe, so I won't here.

Posted 7:09 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81527345:

Note to self: In the essays, do not use so many parentheses (these things (I mean the punctuation surrounding these eight words)).

Posted 7:08 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81527322:

I think I've got Wharton #4:

I am going to use an extracurricular activity, and my role in it over the course of 4 years, to illustrate the change/growth that took place during the same time. In this fashion, I introduce:
1) An interesting extracurricular activity that catches the AdComm's attention
2) A passion of mine not revealed through the other essays (though mentioned briefly in the Activities section, of course)
3) My development as a person
4) (Going meta) My emotional intelligence/self awareness

I feel like it's a bit risky, a bit...flashy, but it will enliven the other essays. After reading it, they will definitely say:
1) Wow...that's pretty cool
2) I didn't know that about him
3) I learned something new
(I hope...)


Posted 6:13 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81525240:

I think I'm going with option 3 (below) gives the most insight into who I am and how I think...

Posted 6:10 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81525129:

What do I want to say in Wharton #4? I feel like I've used #1 to convey my career success and justify why I am applying to Wharton; #2 describes a project in which I had a significant leadership role; and #3 describes a very interesting project that I learned a lot in, both as a leader and a team member. The options I'm weighing for #4 are:
1) Discuss all my extracurricular activities, to emphasize my well-roundedness. But wouldn't this be redundant with my Activities section?
2) Focus on a single extracurricular activity that highlights another facet of me.
3) Describe another exciting project that emphasizes...what, exactly? More leadership, or more creativity, or more team building?

This is a tough call...

Posted 5:32 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81523639:

Cool: I've scheduled a face-to-face review of my HBS essays with a very sharp friend of mine for next Thursday. That puts me in good shape: I finish my final drafts this weekend, get them to him; Get his feedback, make any last changes the following weekend, and can submit by Friday, Sept. 27.

Knock on wood.

Posted 5:29 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81523501:

This afternoon and evening I am aiming to:
1) Write Wharton essay #4, third draft
2) Tweak HBS essay #6 to include more facts about what draws me to HBS
3) Tweak Wharton essay #4 to include more facts about what draws me to Wharton


Posted 3:44 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81519110:

I probably should have found this earlier, but am not so familiar with the MSN site. Anyway, from the Wharton S2S board I found the diary of Laura Bennett, 2nd year Wharton student. It seems to go back as far as October of 2001 (i.e. early in her first year). Check it out.

Posted 10:56 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81507919:

I've decided to use a work experience for Wharton essay #4, rather than the extracurricular experiences. A few reasons:
1) I will be able to highlight the extracurricular activities that I want in the Activities section.
2) My extracurricular activities are very different from my themes (i.e. they are very different from my work, and are much more...easy-going), and I don't feel I focused enough on my themes in the other essays. After all, #1 is more of a "explain why a Wharton MBA" essay, leaving only #2 and (the shorter) #3 to hammer home the themes. I'll use #4 to hammer home another theme, albeit in a more exciting and casual manner.
3) I feel that this approach will give me a stronger overall application. I believe that it will get me into an interview, at which point the AdComms could ask about my extracurriculars. They [the extracurriculars] are very interesting to talk about, much more so than writing about (so I have found).

Wish me luck!

Posted 10:19 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81506454:

People are wasting tons of time over at the Business Week forum sparring about which rankings are best, why, why rankings are important, how to use them, blah, blah, blah.

How have I used the rankings? Basically, I put together a spreadsheet of the 5 rankings for each school (see the list along the left side of this page) and took the median (to smooth out the effects of any outliers (ahem, calling WSJ!)). For the schools I'm applying to, the median ranks are:
HBS - 2
Wharton - 2
Kellogg - 4
Columbia - 4
Sloan - 6
Chicago - 5
Stanford - 10

What does these aggregate rankings tell me? That they are all great schools. And that my decision won't be made based on the numbers.

As I've mentioned before, I haven't yet decided which schools I favor the most. Let's take a hypothetical situation: Say I got admitted to only Sloan and Chicago. What would be the deciding factor? Probably it would end up being talking to the students, the class visits, and other intangibles like that. Not the fact that Chicago has a median ranking of 5 and Sloan 6.

Posted 8:09 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81502392:

Caught myself before it was too late: I was thinking of using Wharton #4 ("Please tell us something about yourself that you feel will help the Admissions Committee know you better") to talk about my extracurricular activities. Then I checked the Wharton app, and found that their Activities section would pretty much cover that. I'll need to re-evaluate this question.

Is anyone else using #4 for extracurricular activities? I guess they would be good you had one or two in which you were really involved.

I'll ponder this one a bit more...

Posted 8:07 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81502335:

I just finished the third draft of Wharton essay #3. I expanded it a bit, trying to flesh out some more of my themes, and it now weighs in at 617 words. I think that it's in pretty good shape, though a bit less fluid than the previous two, so it I'll need to do some polishing.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002
Posted 1:26 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81464499:

For those of you interested in Duke, according to an e-mail they sent me their online system is up:

"From: Fuqua Admissions [ Add to Address Book | Block Address ]
To: <#############>
Subject: The Duke MBA in New York

Greetings from The Duke MBA!

Our 2002-2003 application materials are now available on the web at:"

Posted 1:00 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81463338:

(Looking it over) Yeah, my HBS essay #6 is going to need some work. I do a good job explaining my career goals, but kind of go off the tracks when it comes to why HBS (am I really saying that I can learn the same things on the job? That's going to impress them: "Yeah, I could probably pick up most of what you teach on the job, but..."--what was I thinking, man?!?)

Posted 12:52 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81462979:

The other good B-Week forum post I'd like to point out is about Chicago essay 8b, the one about team building. The poster suggests that you use a real-world team experience in its place: It both answer the question and shows off more experience. Brilliant (why didn't I think of that--oh yeah, haven't worked on the Chicago essays much yet...)

Posted 12:30 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81462076:

Chicago GSB's website is back up.

Posted 12:07 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81461138:

For those of you wondering the same thing, I started a thread on the Business Week forum about the essay topic, "Why do you want to apply to our school?" I've gotten some great feedback. Here's the link:

I think what I need to do is limit the discussion of my prior career and focus on why each school is important to me. I was hoping to use the discussion of my prior experience as a way to hammer home some of my themes--especially in Wharton #1, which is, after all 1/3 of the essays (by word count). I'll make a small shift of focus in it. Same with HBS #6, which has a much smaller word limit so the amount of depth is necessarily limited.

I've found that if you make serious comments and ask serious questions, the information you get from these forums is great. 90% of the posts are drek, but basically you get back what you put in.

Thanks to all for their help!

Posted 11:31 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81459689:

Chicago GSB's web site seems to be down right now:

" is currently down for emergency system maintenance. The server will be returned to production when this maintenance is completed."

Posted 5:01 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81447689:

Again, posting will be light today due to the cirumstances. I would refer all of you the strong, clear-headed speech British PM Tony Blair made yesterday, reiterating his country's steadfast support for America.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002
Posted 5:36 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81422414:

I probably won't be posting much this afternoon and evening; Taking a well-deserved day off...

Posted 3:55 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81418177:

They are watching me...
I've never been to Duke's web page nor signed up for anything from them, yet I found this in my [real e-mail] inbox today:

"We appreciate your continued interest in Duke University's Fuqua School
of Business. Our campus is full of excitement and energy as students are
arriving on campus. We want to share this experience with you.

One of the best ways to experience Fuqua is by visiting our campus. Currently,
we are scheduling campus visits and interviews for prospective students.
While you are on campus you have the options of attending a class, having
lunch with current students, receiving a tour or participating in an evaluative
interview. You may schedule your visit by contacting us at 919.660.7705.
Our admissions representatives are available to assist you with your plans...."

Did GMAC give my e-mail to them?

Posted 3:52 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81418062:

Just glancing over my Wharton essay #4. It's hard to imagine me doing a worse job on it: I took something fairly interesting (I'm using one of my extracurricular activities) and managed to shrink, chop, and deaden it. It reads like a seventh grader wrote it.

Get me rewrite!

Posted 1:50 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81413190:

Is it weird to anyone else that September 11th is tomorrow? I wonder how many of us [subconsciously] decided to go for an MBA at least in part because of that (in the sense that, if you're in a job that you don't like, why spend valuable time from your life doing it?)

Posted 1:48 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81413129:

Some of you have e-mailed to show concern about my earlier post (the "nosebleed" one). Don't worry, I'm fine...

I do have a full-time job, with some big deadlines coming up, and I know that the weeks of Sept. 30 - October 13 I am going to basically be unable to work on the apps at all. Because of this, I really feel like my deadline for HBS is the end of September (I hope to submit by Sept. 27, my last free day), and hope as well to submit Wharton then as well (because after Oct. 13 I will need to start working on Stanford, Kellogg, MIT, Chicago). So I have a slightly more compressed schedule than some of you, and was feeling the pressure then.

Now that I have the HBS drafts done, and am happy with them, and the Wharton drafts 2/3s done, I'm feeling much less stressed.

Posted 9:26 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81403100:

I'm starting to feel my spirits lift about these applications. Since about last Wednesday, when I spent the entire night cramming the Montauk book, I've been really feeling stressed and exhausted. It was partially due to lack of sleep, partially due to pressure at work, and partially due to the fact that I had some serious re-working to do on the HBS and Wharton essays. The physical symptoms of this stress were irritability, exhaustion, and (maybe this is getting too personal) a couple nosebleeds.

Now I'm starting to relax again, as I'm pretty happy with the HBS essays and the two big Wharton essays I've completed. I'm at a state with them where I can have friends review them and will focus on cleaning up the grammar and style.

Full speed ahead!

Posted 8:21 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81401267:

BTW, Wharton #2 weighed in at 1,132 words. I think that's fine, and will edit not too shorten but to improve it.

Posted 8:14 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81401096:

Phew. Completed Wharton #2, and I feel good about it. Again, it reads much more smoothly, and I think I emphasized my points without sounding repetitive or preachy. If I can complete the third drafts of [the much shorter] #3 and #4 by the end of the week, I will be in a very comfortable position with this application.

Posted 5:07 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81397542:

I'm going to write (draft 3 of) Wharton #2 this morning. I know the experience I'm using: One in which I was given responsibility for a project that required leadership and teamwork by its very nature (no, not high-wire trapese, smart ass!).

Posted 4:48 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81397226:

HBS info session report
If you're interested, check out Brian's description of one on the B-Week forum.

Posted 4:43 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81397125:

Kellogg news:
THe Kellogg AdComm just stated in a post to Business Week that the CPS (Career Progress Survey--their recommendation form) has to be submitted in paper form, not electronically:

"The CPS must come separately in a hard copy, even if the body of the application is submitted on-line."

This seems to be true of Chicago and MIT as well, meaning the only schools that have online recommendations (that I'm applying to) are Harvard, Wharton, and Stanford.

Monday, September 09, 2002
Posted 10:14 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81384579:

I've tried a new topic for Wharton #4, but am not happy with the results. I'm going to have to think this one over a bit more, and see how I can flesh it out (it's way too short) as well as tie it in to overall message of my previous essays.

For essay #3, I have a perfect experience, so I think it only needs some minor tweaking. For essay #2, I could go either way: Tweak and clean up the current essay, or use a different experience in which I had much more of a leadership role (right now, I'm leaning towards the latter approach). I'm tapped out for tonight, though...

Posted 9:26 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81382460:

Just completed the third draft of my Wharton essay #1. It was basically a complete rewrite, and is a large improvement on the clunky, a bit grinding, and thoroughly boring version I had previously produced. I think I am finally getting the hang of this essay writing thing; The key is to remember that you are marketing yourself, and thus that, first and foremost, you must capture their attention and hang on to it.

My essays are becoming a lot more fluid, more story-like. There are fewer and fewer paragraphs that start out like, "There are many reasons I want to attend..." or "However, I then decided to..." Put into automobile terms, the first version of these essays are rusted 1985 Buick LeBarons; the second drafts are brank new Mack trucks (powerful, but shifting gears is a bitch); these third drafts are moving into the Jaguar range...

On a practical note, it was a bit tiring going from the 400 word mini-essays to the 1000 word (suggested count) Wharton #1. I wrote everything I had, and it came to 967, so I feel comfortable.

On to #2!...

Posted 5:29 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81373107:

I hope to tackle the Wharton essays (third drafts, that is) head-on tonight. I think I learned a lot over the past week, cramming through Montauk and the HBS essays.

Posted 4:28 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81370477:

Latest on Kellogg On-Line App:
The Kellogg AdComm is reporting on the B-Week Forum that their online app should be up by the end of this week:

"Embark has promised to deliver the final version to us this Wednesday. The application will then need testing before we can go live--so, hopefully it will be up and running smoothly by the end of the week."

Posted 2:17 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81365191:

Is Kellogg moving on their online app? I notice that their "Online Application" page now includes text saying, "Note: You may get an error page when trying to connect with the online application. If this happens, please refresh your browser." I just checked Embark, but the 2003 app still doesn't seem to be up.

Posted 9:23 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81354052:

The WSJ wrote an entire article related to why Stanford is ranked so low. The key paragraph:

"This year, recruiters rated Stanford quite low on such factors as the past acceptance rate for job offers, the ability to retain students who have been hired and overall value for the money invested in the recruiting effort."

Of the three things listed above, only the final one is of any concern to students/applicants of Stanford. The first one (low offer acceptance rate) could just mean that Stanford students get so many offers, most of the recruiters will be disappointed. The second one (ability to retain students) just means that Stanford grads are hot commodoties and are willing to move to better jobs.

That is why I consider the WSJ of very limited value (to the applicant).

Posted 9:19 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81353891:

The new 2003 WSJ rankings are now available on their site:

Here are their top 50:

Posted 7:03 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81350816:

A tip for writer's block
If you find yourself stuck on an essay, chat about it with a good friend. I found myself really spinning HBS #4 around in my mind, day and night, almost obsessing over it. The thing to remember is that, when you're just thinking about it alone, it's a one side conversation. If you get a friend involved, you'll get a whole new perspective, and just the act of conversing about a problem will open up new ideas for you.

Posted 7:01 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81350780:

I just completed HBS essay #4, in about 40 minutes. It almost wrote itself. It's a bit dry, but thoughtful and (most important) answers the question they are asking.

I think the essays are pretty close to complete, then. I'll be sending them to a friend to review, and will be making minor stylistic changes, but other than that, they're good to go. The other piece of the HBS app I now have to work on is writing about each job, each extracurricular activity, etc.

I expect my other two HBS recommendations to be done in the next two weeks. I'm looking at submitting my application in the final week of September.

Posted 4:55 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81348668:

My goal is to try to finish a draft of HBS essay #4 this morning. I could then send all six completed fourth drafts to a friend, who will be reading/reviewing them for errors. I'll be in very good shape to hit the Round 1 deadline.

I heard from my uber-recomender of the weekend, and she's almost done with the Stanford rec; It'll be complete by the end of the month, she said.

Sunday, September 08, 2002
Posted 9:04 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81334052:

From my sources
Take it or leave it, but I got an email from longtime reader DD with the new WSJ (2003) rankings (last year's rankings are in parentheses); I'll try to confirm them later, here are the top 50 for now:

1-Dartmouth (1)
Michigan (4)
Carnegie Mellon (2)
Kellogg (5)
5-Wharton (18)
Chicago (7)
Texas (10)
Yale (3)
Harvard (8)
10-Columbia (34)
Purdue (6)
North Carolina (17)
Michigan State (12)
Indiana (23)
15-UC Berkeley (21)
Maryland (13)
Emory (19)
Ohio State (14)
Cornell (20)
20-Virginia (32)
IMD International (33)
Rochester (27)
Wake Forest (11)
NYU (30)
25-Duke (44)
Vanderbilt (16)
Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) (N/A)
Instituto Panamerica de Alta Direccion de Empresa (IPADE) (31)
Southern Methodist University (9)
30-MIT (38)
Notre Dame (15)
Washington University (24)
Escuela Superior de Administracion y Direccion de Empresas (ESADE) (26)
Thunderbird (AGSIM) (25)
35-University of Southern California (N/A)
UCLA (36)
BYU (41)
Stanford (45)
40-Illinois (37)
SUNY Buffalo (43)
Western Ontario (22)
Instituto de Empresa (49)
William and Mary (N/A)
45-London Business School (39)
Toronto (N/A)
UC Davis (35)
Boston College (N/A)
UC Irvine (29)
50 - Wisconsin (42)

The big improvers were Wharton (from 18 to 5), Duke (44 to 25) and Columbia (44 to 10!).


Posted 9:01 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81333912:

That's what friends are for!
Chatting with my good buddy Steve resulted in an experience for HBS essay #4! It's not a huge dilemma, but it did have several possible options I weighed, it was in the past couple of years, and it did relate to ethics. Bingo! At the very least, I can knock out a well-written essay that won't hurt my applicaiton any, if it doesn't help it. I think the strength of my essays #1-3,5,6 will carry the app.

Posted 8:59 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81312283:

I think my caffeine intake is a bit too high; I've had trouble sleeping two nights in a row now. I'm going to take it easy today.


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